Sunday, 30 December 2012


Ahhh I love holidays and having people around to cook for! In the past few months I have been lucky enough to be given several baking cookbooks, one of them being 'Best of Pierre Herme.' It's a fabulous book full of very challenging recipes, with the greatest challenge being that they are all in French! Tonight I tried out the easiest recipe in the book, and Herme's signature - the ispahan.

Ispahan is a gigantic macaron filled with fresh raspberries, lychees and rose buttercream. This combination of flavours has been recreated in many desserts on restaurant menus and in other cookbooks. One of the other books I receieved, Sweet Studio by Darren Purchese has a dessert with the same flavour profile.

Anyway onto the Ispahan. My high school french came in very handy for this recipe, and combined with my knowledge of macarons, i'm pretty sure I got the recipe right. It tasted amazing and Dad declared it one of my best desserts yet. I did make two fairly big flaws: -
1. My macaron shell on the top cracked. Either because it was undercooked or because my raspberry layer underneath was too uneven.
2. I left the finished dessert under the window whilst Dad pressure sprayed the outside of the house. Who knew our windows were so leaky? The result was a very speckled dessert from the water spray!

Oh well! It just shows i'm not perfect!

So for the recipe. Here is a translated version. It is my translation so I accept no responsibility if I have made mistakes! Having said that it worked for me! There seemed to be a lot of mixture - I ended up making 22 macarons with leftover mixture and filled them with leftover rose buttercream and had extra buttercream left over. I think there was probably enough mixture to make another whole Ispahan!

(translated from Bestof Pierre Hermé)
Serves 6-8.Preparation 90mins. Cooking 60mins

Rose Macaron
250g almond meal
250g icing sugar
6 (180g) egg whites
3g pink food colouring
250g caster sugar
65g water

Italian Meringue
4 (120g) egg whites
250g caster sugar
75g water

Rose PetalButtercream
90g full cream milk
3-4 (70g) egg yolks
45g caster sugar
450g butter, softened at room temperature
4g rose essence
30g rose syrup (eg Monin)
(I didn't have essence & syrup so used 35g rosewater)

To Assemble
200g lychees in syrup
250g fresh raspberries
Fresh rose petals

Rose Macaron
Place almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor andpulse until combined. Sift mixture into a medium-sized bowl.
Add the food colouring into 3 egg whites, add to almond mealmixture and stir to combine.
Place the extra 3 egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer.
You need to ensure the almond paste is bright pink like this, otherwise it will become too pale when the egg whites are added.
In a small saucepan add the caster sugar and water. Heat ona medium heat until it reaches 110 degrees. Turn stand mixer to high to whipegg whites. When the syrup reaches 118 degrees, remove it from the heat andpour onto the whipped egg whites, in a slow, steady stream.
Keep whipping the egg whites until it becomes thick andglossy and reaches approximately 50 degrees.
Add approximately 1/3 egg white mixture to the almond mealpaste. Stir to incorporate and loosen the mixture. Fold in the remainder of theegg whites.
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a #12 tip*.Line 1-2 trays with non-stick baking paper or a silpat and pipe 2 20cm discs,starting from the centre and working outwards.
The discs resting on the bench.
Leave the discs to sit at room temperature for approximately30 minutes or until a crust has formed. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160fan-forced). (I baked at 140 degrees because that's what I usually do!)
Place the macaron discs in the oven and bake for 20-25minutes or until cooked. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
*I only have a size 9 tip which worked ok.

Italian Meringue
Place the caster sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bringto a boil, brushing down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Letcook until it reaches 118 degrees. Meanwhile place the egg whites in the bowlof a stand mixer and whip until soft peaks form. When the sugar syrup is attemperature, add to egg whites, while the motor is running, in a slow steadystream (as per the macaron recipe). Continue to whisk until mixture is cool.Put aside 175g of the meringue for use later. (The remainder can be used tomake meringues or something else)

Rose PetalButtercream
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl.Place the milk in a small saucepan, bring to the boil then pour over the eggyolk mixture. Whisk to incorporate then pour the mixture back into thesaucepan. Heat on a low heat until mixture reaches 85 degrees (be careful notto let the mixture stick to bottom of the saucepan.) Pour mixture into the bowlof a stand mixer and whip on high to cool mixture. Pour into a bowl and placein the fridge to continue to cool.
Place the butter into the bowl of the stand mixer (don’tworry about cleaning it.) Using the paddle, beat butter until soft and creamy.Pour in cooled crème anglaise mixture (the one you just put in the fridge) andbeat to combine. (If it curdles keep beating!) Using the lowest speed, or by hand, fold through the Italianmeringue and both the rose essence and syrup. Transfer into a piping bags witha #10 tip, ready to use quickly.

To assemble
Cut the lychees into a 2cm dice and let drain in the fridgeovernight (or pat dry well with a paper towel if you forget!) Place one of themacaron discs on a plate with the flat side facing up. Pipe the rosebuttercream over the disc, leaving 3 cm border. Place a row of raspberriesaround the border of the macaron. Next place a ring of lychees inside theraspberries. Repeat two more times, alternating rings of raspberries andlychees until the disc is filled. (you should have 3 rings of raspberries and 3rings of lychees.)
Place the second macaron disc on top, with the flat sidedown.
Decorate the top of the macaron with 3 fresh raspberries and5 rose petals, ‘gluing’ the decorations down with a dab of glucose. 

Don't leave uncovered under a window where it can get wet!!!

Leave in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.

Sarah xx

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

How about a macaron tree?

Pistachio, candy cane, gingerbread and plum pudding flavours.

More macs to come thanks to one of my Christmas presents being Zumbarons!

Sarah xx